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Health Information For Parents
Encephalitis is an inflammation (swelling and irritation) of the brain. In most cases, a
causes this inflammation.
Encephalitis is also called acute viral encephalitis or aseptic encephalitis.
Encephalitis (in-seh-fuh-LYE-tus) is a rare disease. Most cases happen in children, the elderly, and people with a weakened immune system (from HIV/AIDS, cancer, etc.).
Several thousand cases of encephalitis are reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) every year. But health experts think that many more cases happen that aren’t reported because symptoms vary and can be mild.
Symptoms in mild cases of encephalitis usually include:
Serious cases of encephalitis can cause:
It’s harder to spot some of these symptoms in infants. Important signs to look for include:
Because encephalitis can happen during or after common viral illnesses, symptoms of these illnesses can start before encephalitis happens. But often, it appears without warning.
Three groups of viruses are common causes of encephalitis:
Less often, encephalitis can be:
, such as bacterial meningitis
Brain inflammation itself is not contagious. But the viruses that cause encephalitis can be. Of course, getting a virus does not mean that someone will develop encephalitis.
Doctors use several tests to diagnose encephalitis, including:
Most kids with encephalitis need care in a hospital, usually in an intensive care unit (ICU). Doctors will watch their blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, and body fluids to prevent further swelling of the brain.
Many people with encephalitis make a full recovery. In some cases, brain swelling can cause lasting problem like learning disabilities, speech problems, memory loss, or lack of muscle control. Speech therapy, physical therapy, or occupational therapy can help in these cases.
Most of the time, the
phase of the illness (when symptoms are the most severe) lasts up to a week. Full recovery can take longer, often several weeks or months.
Encephalitis can’t be prevented, but you can avoid the illnesses that may lead to it. Immunizations protect kids from many common childhood illnesses. So follow the immunization schedule recommended by your doctor. Kids should also avoid contact with anyone who already has encephalitis.
It’s also important for everyone in your family to wash their hands well and often.
To avoid mosquito bites, kids should:
Drain standing water from around your home, including in buckets, birdbaths, flowerpots, and tire swings. These are breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
To avoid tick bites:
Call your doctor if your child has a high fever, especially if he or she also has a childhood illness (like measles, mumps, or chickenpox) or is recovering from one.
Get medical care right away if your child has any of these symptoms:
Get medical care right away if your baby has any of these symptoms:
Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain. Although encephalitis sounds scary, understanding its causes, symptoms, and treatment can help you feel prepared to deal with it if you ever need to.
The threat of West Nile virus has made getting a mosquito bite a cause for concern. What is West Nile virus, and what can you do to prevent it?
You may be wondering what the deal is with meningitis because you’ve heard frightening stuff about meningitis outbreaks in the news.
Chickenpox used to be common in kids, causing a very itchy red rash all over the body. But the good news is that a vaccine can prevent most cases.
Lyme disease can affect the skin, joints, nervous system, and other organ systems. If Lyme disease is diagnosed quickly and treated with antibiotics, most people feel better quickly.
The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to prevent tick bites. Find out more about this disease and how to keep those ticks away.
Lyme disease can be treated if it’s caught early. Find out what causes it, how it’s treated, and how to prevent it.
Fevers happen when the body’s internal “thermostat” raises the body temperature above normal. This is often the body’s way of fighting infections.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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